Chewy marshmallow nougat w/ cheese crackers and pistachio
” It has just the right resistance, just the right gives, and just the right amount of crunches, dense and chewy yet airy and textural. “
In case you’re wondering why there’s again a video instead of process photos, I’m actually thinking about experimenting with this new format from now on. Based on feedbacks, videos seem to demonstrate the makings of the recipes much better than photos, and hence removing more fear and unfamiliarity from people who are trying to make them. So I will keep doing it this way and see how it all goes.
So putting that aside, what we have here today is what I would like to call a marshmallow nougat, or marshmallow crisp, as some also call it, a snow crisp. It is a very popular, well circulated, essentially a nougat-like candy bar of sort that’s been making buzzes in Taiwan and Hong Kong’s food-fad circles. For someone who’s not in the slightest bit into candy bars, even less so with nougats specifically, I too fell for its satisfyingly chewy texture with airy crunches from the crackers that are generously dispersed throughout. But if you know what a snow crisp is and are wondering, “but wait, this looks nothing like it!” Well, I can explain.
Look, here are my issues with the typical recipes of snow crisps…
Let’s start with the “snow” part of things, which one could safely presume is the white coloring of the bars because of the marshmallows. In order to make the marshmallow denser and chewier like nougats, and not soft and stringy like say rice krispies, a significant amount of dry milk powder is mixed in with the melted marshmallow to absorb the excess moisture. Not only that dry milk powder is not exactly a common grocery store or household item – even if you were armed with a baby, because it is NOT baby formulas – but I’m also not an avid fan of its dull and weighing flavors that easily cloy. Then to move onto the “crisp” part which refers to the crackers, I am again puzzled with the common choice of plain crackers that appears in most available recipes out there. Shouldn’t one seize this as a perfect opportunity to introduce more interesting flavors, particularly one that would nicely tango with the sweetness?
Enter, a two-birds-with-one-stone solution. Salty cheesy crackers.
One part ground up finely, and another simply broken up, the cheese crackers fit into this nougat puzzle so snugly, almost fated, like a long lost soulmate. The cracker powder absorbs the excess moisture from the marshmallow just as efficiently, turning it orange in hue, whereas the broken ones prevent the whole thing from becoming too dense by inserting airy crunches in between every bites. Keen yet gentle, the cheesiness willingly recedes into the background, leaving an overall complex but well-balanced, savory-sweet profile that tingles with some mild tartness from dried prunes and the occasional nutty bonuses of roasted pistachio.
It has just the right resistance, just the right gives, and just the right amount of crunches, dense and chewy yet airy and textural. One after another, me and my candy-averse husband, probably you too, literally could not stop eating these.
Sure there is definitively nothing “snow” about this. But consider it a Jon Snow. A bastard with true substance that you can’t get enough of.
- 3 1/2 tbsp (50 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp (15 grams) whole milk
- 5.3 oz (150 grams) marshmallows
- 1/2 packed cup (50 grams) finely ground cheese crackers, see note *
- 1/3 tightly packed cup (70 grams) of pitted prunes, or other dried fruits you prefer (note that weight will differ so go by volume)
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (50 grams) roughly crushed salted toasted pistachio
- 1 1/2 loose cup (80 grams) cheese crackers, broken up, see note *
- PREPARATION: In a food-processor, grind 50 grams of cheese crackers until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Pulse the pistachio in the food-processor until the largest piece is about 1/3 or 1/4 of a whole pistachio, and set aside in another bowl (You can also grind the cheese crackers and/or crush the pistachio inside a zip-lock bag with a rolling pin). Use a scissor to cut the prunes into pea-size pieces, then toss them together with the pistachios until evenly mixed. Place 80 grams of cheese crackers in another large bowl and crunch them up into about 1" pieces. Set aside.
- TO MAKE THE BARS: In a large non-stick skillet or non-stick pot, cook unsalted butter and whole milk over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, until all the moisture has evaporated and the butter is bubbling. Turn the heat down to low, and continue to stir and cook until the butter is browned, about 5 minute from start to finish.
- Add the marshmallows and keep stirring until all the marshmallows have melted, then add the finely ground cheese cracker. Keep mixing and cooking over low heat until the mixture is evenly incorporated and kind of "deflated" slightly compared to when the marshmallows had just melted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Now scatter the pistachio and prune mixture evenly over the top, as well as the broken up cheese crackers. Use two spatulas to fold and mix everything together evenly, then transfer onto a large piece of parchment paper.
- Gather the mixture into a ball, then use the flat sides of pastry scrapers to press it down tightly to a 3/4" (2 cm) thick disk. Press and squeeze on all four sides of the disk with the pastry scrapers to create a straight edged, compact rectangular block. Now wrap it up in the parchment and flash-freeze in the freezer for 30 minute until cooled down to room-temperature. Cut into 12 equal-sized bars and keep individually wrapped in parchment. Keep at room-temperature for up to 2 weeks.
* The specific brand of cheese cracker I'm using is Ritz toasted chips (cheddar flavor), but you can use other types, too.